Marte Olsbu Roeiseland Anchors Norway to IBU World Championships Relay Gold
Marte Olsbu Roeiseland anchored Norway to its third consecutive IBU World Championships Women’s 4 X 6 km Relay Gold medal, finishing in 1:10:39. Olsbu Roeiseland and teammates Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, Ida Lien and Tiril Eckhoff used eleven spare rounds in their winning effort. Franziska Preuss outsprinted Ukraine’s veteran Anchor Olena Pidhrushna in the last 10 meters to bring the Silver medal to Germany, with five spare rounds, 8.8 seconds back. Ukraine with the Bronze medal had seven spare rounds, 9.2 seconds back.
Winning the “most important relay”
Olsbu Roeiseland was a bit speechless after the Norwegians overcame problems in previous relays to defend their IBU World Championship title. “I do not know what to say. I am so glad that the whole team did such a good job today. We have struggled a bit in relays this year. To win the most important relay this season; that feels just amazing.”
Spare Rounds in the Middle
She admitted that the three spare rounds in prone were a hurdle she had overcome before. “I did the same in the mixed relay, just in prone this time, so I have a bit of experience with that now, to put those three extra shells in the middle.”
IBU WCH rookie Lien, in only her second relay appearance this season was nervous when she took the tag in first. “I was so nervous waiting for Tiril, still nervous through the whole race but I did okay so it was good.”
Belarus, with eight spares finished fourth, 29.2 seconds back. Sweden with nine spare rounds finished fifth, 47.9 seconds back, while Poland finished in a season-best sixth place with six spares, 52.1 seconds back.
Sunny Day: Vittozzi Dominates First Leg
Relay day at the 2021 IBU World Championships dawned like the rest of the days this past week: brilliantly sunny and a warm +5C, with no wind on the shooting range. Tandrevold led the 23 teams into the first prone stage, but Lisa Vittozzi cleaned quickly to lead fifteen teams out all within 15 seconds. She held the top shot into the standing stage, skiing comfortably 10 seconds ahead of the pack; five more perfect shots and the Italian was gone before Anais Bescond on lane 2 had fired one. Evgenia Pavlova, Vanessa Hinz and Bescond were also 5-for-5, heading in that order but 18 seconds back to the first exchange. Skiing much better than most of this season, she tagged Michela Carrara 16 seconds before Eckhoff and Germany’s Janina Hettich.
Eckhoff Takes Control
The young Italian led into the prone stage, but spares pushed her from the lead. Eckhoff needed two spares to clean while Anais Chevalier-Bouchet cleaned in five shots to go out in second with Ukraine’s Yulia Dzhima just behind, 5.8 seconds back. The Norwegian stretched her lead to a dozen seconds and cleaned standing with just a single spare round. Chevalier-Bouchet with a single spare remained in second with Dzinara Alimbekava’s 5-for-5 brought Belarus to third. Eckhoff tagged Ida Lien 25 seconds ahead of Belarus, Poland and Ukraine.
Lien’s Powerful Attack
Hanna Sola cut into the young Norwegian’s lead; both women needed a spare round to clean the prone stage, with Norway’s lead down to 8 seconds. Darya Blashko kept Ukraine in third, 16 seconds back. The wind picked up by the time they reached the standing stage. However, Blashko closed her five targets with five shots to move to the top spot; Sola and Lien both with two spares, second and third,10 seconds back with surprising Kamilla Zuk moving Poland up to fourth. Lien attacked powerfully to regain the lead, tagging Olsbu Roeiseland nine seconds before Belarus and Poland with Ukraine’s Olena Pidhrushna 23 seconds back in fourth position. Germany and France lagged at 43 seconds back.
Spare Rounds for Olsbu Roeiseland
The Norwegian anchor was flying from the moment she took the tag, but needed all three spare rounds to clean prone while the Ukrainian used none to leave on her shoulder. Poland’s Anna Mąka remained in third, but with Preuss 20 seconds back. With the wind now quite strong, Olsbu Roeiseland used a spare to clean, while the veteran Ukrainian used two and Preuss went 5-for-5. The German left 11 seconds back in second with Pidhrushna another two seconds back.
Silver Medal Sprint
Olsbu Roeiseland had no problem holding the lead to secure the Gold medal. Pidhrushna quickly passed Preuss, holding second until the last few meters when the German sprinted past her for the Silver medal, pushing Ukraine to the Bronze spot.
Preuss: ‘Push as hard as possible”
Preuss said her road to the Silver medal in the last loop was not easy. “Denise gave me a really good group with Lisa and Hanna; the first loop was a good pace for us. I tried to focus on myself. I do not know why the performance at the shooting range was so good today. It was a great feeling and yes…the last loop was very hard. My legs were so, I do not know, but I tried to push as hard as possible in the last meters. It was so cool to win the Silver medal!”
Blashko Overcomes Pressure
Blashko, in her first IBU World Championships felt the pressure in her leg with a medal for Ukraine almost within reach. However, her good shooting kept them in the medal hunt. “It was very big pressure because when I saw Anastasiya and Yulia do so good legs, it was really big pressure for me. But I took a breath and shot one extra shot (in prone) which was good I think. My standing shooting was really fast and clean.”
Photos: IBU/Thibaut, Manzoni